Sunday, May 25, 2014

Spinach Pesto and Beyond

After several years of just feeling so-so about spinach (I used to love it, but then, I used to grow my own and got spoiled; yes, homegrown is noticeably better), I found myself eating a lot of spinach this spring.  Always looking for new recipes, I found several for spinach pesto and decided to give it a try.  Most of the recipes you'll find on line are very similar.  Here's my version:


Ingredients, per serving:

  • 1/2 c. loosely packed spinach
  • 2 T. toasted walnuts, lightly chopped
  • 1 T. parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 t. lemon juice
  • 1-2 T. extra virgin olive oil


If you've made pesto before, you know the routine.  In your food processor, pulse to blend the spinach, nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, and lemon juice.  While running processor, drizzle in the olive oil to get the consistency you want.


I love this.  The flavors are bright and fresh without being overpowering.  Put on warm pasta, spread on bread for your favorite sandwich (try a sourdough grilled mozzarella cheese sandwich with a thin layer of pesto and some sliced tomato), add to a little sour cream for a dip, or try whatever appeals to you.

I like this much better than basil pesto, and I feel like a traitor for saying that because I love basil.  But for whatever reason, I just don't care that much for basil pesto.  Once or twice a year I love it but that's it.  Sorry, basil pesto lovers!  

I used walnuts but you can use whatever you like.  Toasting them adds another layer of flavor.

I've kept this for over a week with no discoloration (like with basil pesto) and it still tasted good.  I wouldn't keep it much longer than that; it can also be frozen in ice cube trays like basil pesto.

In looking for ways to use spinach pesto, I ran across several similar recipes for a spinach pesto salad.  I modified what I found slightly and made this:


Ingredients (per serving):
  • 2 T. spinach pesto
  • 2 ounces pasta of choice
  • 3-4 cherry tomatoes
  • shaved parmesan
  • 2 T. chopped green onion

  • 1 T. pesto
  • 1 T. sour cream
  • 1 T. mayo
  • pepper
  • dash lemon juice
  • spinach or lettuce of choice


Cook pasta al dente; drain and put in bowl with 2 T. pesto.  Mix well. Chill.

Make dressing:  combine sour cream, pesto, mayo, pepper.  Use lemon juice to thin dressing a bit (you can also add milk).  Bring pasta out and dress; toss with green onions.

To serve, put a layer of lettuce or spinach in a bowl or on a plate; top with pasta, cherry tomatoes, and shaved parmesan.

Serve with bread or crackers, if desired.


The more I ate this the more I liked it.  If you want to make this ahead, don't add the lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and shaved parmesan until just before serving to keep all flavors as fresh as possible.  You could also add mozzarella cheese, black olives, mushrooms.  I think next time I'll make it without the spinach but it was a good addition. 

However you make it, don't forget to cook, eat, dance, love!

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